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Men's Lacrosse Plays Host To Denver on Sunday

March 26, 2003

THE WEEK AHEAD – After snapping a three-game losing streak with a 17-3 thrashing of Hartford, the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team looks to make it two in a row by playing host Sunday, March 30, to Great Western Lacrosse League rival Denver. The Irish, currently 4-3 on the season, are ranked 13th in the USILA and 14th in the Warrior/Inside Lacrosse polls this week, while Denver is unranked. Game time on Sunday is set for 1:00 p.m. at Moose Krause Stadium.

SCOUTING THE IRISH – After starting the season 3-0, Notre Dame has struggled of late winning only one of its last four contests. The Irish ended a three-game losing streak with a 17-3 win over Hartford at Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y., last Sunday. During its recent three-game losing streak, Notre Dame lost to top-ranked Virginia 14-8 on March 11, before losing a pair of heartbreakers to 11th-ranked Loyola, 9-8, at the Loftus Sports Center and 15th-ranked Hofstra, 9-8, in Hempstead, N.Y.

The Irish are led in scoring by junior Matt Howell (Huntington, N.Y.), who has 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points. Howell has become an offensive threat for Notre Dame every time he handles the ball, and has recorded at least one goal in six of seven games for the Irish this season.

Freshman Patrick Walsh (Wantagh, N.Y.) stands second in the scoring column with 10 goals and 11 assists, while last season’s top scorer, junior Dan Berger (Phoenix, Md.) has 17 goals. Another rookie, Matt Karweck (Penn Yan, N.Y.) is also among the team’s scoring leaders with seven goals and two assists (nine points).

Notre Dame’s defensive unit has been solid this season with a 10.14 goals-against average. The Irish defense boasts great experience with two-year starter and preseason honorable mention All-America candidate Eric Simon (Flemington, N.J.) and junior Mickey Blum (Garden City, N.Y.).

Stewart Crosland (Bethesda, Md.) has started all seven games in goal. He has played all but 24 of a possible 420 minutes and owns an 8.48 goals-against average and a .600 save percentage.

SCOUTING DENVER – Denver is 3-3 on the season with wins over Quinnipiac, Manhattan and Siena and losses to Duke, Army and North Carolina. Like Notre Dame, Denver is 1-3 in its last four games as well. The Pioneers have not played in 15 days due to a snowstorm that dumped over 30 inches on the Denver campus.

Denver has had a hard time playing on the road in ’03 as they are 0-2 this season falling 12-10 to Army at West Point, N.Y., and 10-6 to North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Pioneers are averaging 12 goals a game, while giving up only 7.83. Denver is led by Matt Brown, who has 11 goals and four assists for 15 points. More amazingly, Brown has 11 goals in only 19 shots. Key reserve Mike Kenlay is tied with Brown for first in the scoring column with seven goals and eight assists, while Eric Swanson has seven goals and three assists for 10 points. Jeff Biggs has nine goals for the Pioneers, good for second on the team and Scott Davidson is close behind with eight goals.

In goal, the Pioneers look to Jeff Nunziato, who has started five of Denver’s six games in ’03. He has a goals-against average of 8.69 and a save percentage of .615.

SERIES RECORD VERSUS DENVER – Notre Dame holds a 6-0 advantage over the Pioneers, outscoring Denver 97-42 in those games. Notre Dame has never scored less than 12 goals against the Pioneers, while Denver has never scored more than nine goals versus the Irish. The closest game between the two teams was 12-8 in March of 2000.

REVIEWING THE HARTFORD CONTEST – Notre Dame ended its three-game losing streak with a decisive victory over Hartford on March 21. The Irish had 11 different players score goals, including Drew Peters (Babylon, NY) and Patrick Walsh with three goals each. Colin Fatti (Skaneateles, NY) and Chris Richez (Freeport, NY) had two goals each in the win, while Matt Howell recorded a career-high six assists in the game, but for the first time in the ’03 season, failed to score a goal. The Irish outshot Hartford 54-21 in the game, including 30-9 in the first half.

In the nets, starting goalie Stewart Crosland played 38 minutes, allowing two goals and making four saves, while Nick Antol (Baldwin, MD) saw his first significant action of the season playing 22 minutes. Antol allowed only one goal and made four saves.

IRISH HEAD COACH KEVIN CORRIGAN – Kevin Corrigan is his 15th season at Notre Dame and 17th in the collegiate ranks. The four-time Great Western Lacrosse League Coach of the Year owns a 137-88 (.609) overall ledger and a 127-72 (.638) mark with the Irish. Corrigan has led Notre Dame to 10 NCAA tournament appearances in the last 14 years (including six straight from 1992-97) and 11 (either outright or shared) conference titles. In 2001, he guided the Irish to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship national semifinals. Under Corrigan, Notre Dame has been victorious in the first round of the NCAA tournament on three occasions. He has had 12 different players earn USILA All-America honors. Previous to his tenure at Notre Dame, Corrigan served as head coach at Randolph-Macon during the 1985 and 1986 campaign where his teams compiled a 10-15 mark.

IN THE POLLS – Notre Dame is currently ranked 13th in the USILA and 14th in the Warrior/Inside Lacrosse polls after beginning the season ranked 17th. Ten of Notre Dame’s 14 opponents began the season in the top 25 – Virginia (#4), Maryland (#5), North Carolina (#9), Hofstra (#10), Loyola (#12), Penn State (#16), Ohio State (#19), Harvard (#21), Fairfield (#22) and Pennsylvania (#23). Since the start of the season Virginia was ranked #1 in both polls when it played Notre Dame (they are now second), while Maryland (Notre Dame’s opponents on May 3) was as high as second in both polls before falling to seventh this week.

RANKING FILE – After posting a 1-4 record against ranked teams in 2002, Notre Dame had turned it around in 2003 opening with a 3-0 record against the high and mighty. The Irish then lost its next three games against ranked opponents pulling them back to .500 against top competition with a 3-3 record. Notre Dame is 10-8 against ranked opponents over the past two-plus seasons.

ROAD WARRIORS – Making the first six games of the season even more difficult was the fact Notre Dame played three of those games on the road and faced Hartford at a neutral site in Hempstead, N.Y. Notre Dame has had a great deal of success on the road lately posting a 16-8 record the last three-plus seasons away from home and has a 2-1 road mark in 2003.

BEFORE AND AFTER – In the first three games, Notre Dame outscored its opponents 34-22 and the Irish led or were tied at halftime in all three of the wins. During Notre Dame’s three-game losing streak, the Irish were outscored 32-26 and trailed in each of the three games. Notre Dame improved its record to 4-0 when leading or being tied at halftime against Hartford where the score was 7-2 at the intermission.

HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS – Head coach Kevin Corrigan is the master of the halftime adjustment as the third quarter has proven to be the best for the Irish in ’03. Notre Dame has outscored its opponents overall 30-10 in the third quarter, including 13-8 during the three-game winning streak. What is even more amazing is the Irish outscored their opponents 13-2 in the third quarter of the three games they lost. Overall, the second and fourth quarters have been the toughest for Notre Dame as the Irish have given up 18 goals in each period this season.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR? – Matt Howell’s return to the lineup in 2003 has certainly paid off for the Irish. The junior attack missed all but three games of the ’02 campaign with an injury after scoring four goals and dishing off an assist. This season, he leads the team with 12 goals and 19 assists (31 points) to bring his career totals to 17 goals and 20 assists. Although the season is just seven games old, it is worthy to note that the last Notre Dame player to lead his team in goals and assists in the same season was Randy Colley in 1995 as he tallied 49 goals and dished off 25 assists.

BERGER KING – Sophomore Dan Berger started the season where he left off a year ago as Notre Dame’s leading scorer (21 goals, 4 assists). Berger has 17 goals and has started all seven games. He recorded a career-high five goals vs. Hofstra.

In 2002, Berger started 13 games after playing in just six games during his freshman year in which he scored just one goal. He had six multiple-goal games in 2002, including a personal-best four goals in a 7-6 loss at Pennsylvania on March 2.

Prior to the Fairfield game (the 11th game of the season in 2002), Berger had scored a goal in the first 10 games of the season. Against the Stags, he did manage to dish off an assist to keep his streak alive of contributing either a goal or an assist in all 11 games. That streak ended though the next game in a loss to Harvard.

Overall, Berger has scored in 19 of his last 20 games for the Irish (12 of 13 in 2002 and all seven in 2003).

HOWELL YOU DO MR. BERGER – Dan Berger and Matt Howell have figured in the scoring in 35 of Notre Dame’s 75 goals in 2003. Against Penn State, the duo combined for five of Notre Dame’s 10 goals and for five of its seven assists. In a win against Penn, Howell and Berger figured in six goals, while versus North Carolina it was six and Virginia was five. In the loss to Loyola, Berger had had three goals, while Howell had a goal and two assists.

FORE: LOOKOUT FOR HOWELL AND BERGER: Junior Matt Howell and sophomore Dan Berger have both had four-goal games for the Irish this season and Berger scored a career-high five goals in a 9-8 loss to Hofstra.

Howell recorded a career-high four goals against North Carolina, after scoring a hat trick against Penn in the home opener. Howell also had five assists vs. Penn State and has scored at least three points in every game this season. He has also recorded at least one goal in six of seven games (did not have a goal against Hartford, but had six assists) and had a season-high six points vs. Penn State and Hartford.

Berger scored his second career four bagger against Penn State in the season opener and has scored at least one goal in each game this season.

HOLD YOUR HATS: Besides the four-goal performances of Matt Howell and Dan Berger this season, Notre Dame scorers have also recorded seven other hat tricks in 2003. Howell had three goals in Notre Dame’s win over Penn, while freshman Matt Karweck also recorded three tallies against the Quakers in his first game at the Loftus Sports Center. Berger registered a hat trick in the loss to Loyola and against Hartford both Drew Peters and Patrick Walsh had three goals in a 17-3 win.

GETTING SOME MATT-I-TUDE: The Irish scoring punch has been coming from guys named Matt this season as junior Matt Howell leads the team with 12 goals and 31 points, while freshman Matt Karweck has seven goals and two assists and freshman Matt Ryan has two goals and three assists. Sophomore Matt Malakoff also has four shots but no points for the Irish in 2003.

FRESHMAN FINESSE: The freshman class has made an immediate impact for the Irish in 2003 as D.J. Driscoll, Brian Hubschmann, Matt Karweck, Drew Peters, Matt Ryan and Patrick Walsh have all seen valuable minutes for Notre Dame. Walsh and Karweck have started all seven games this season, while Driscoll also has a start for the Irish. The freshman class has scored 21 of Notre Dame’s 75 goals and 17 of 48 assists this season.

In fact, Walsh is the second-leading scorer for the Irish this season with 21 points in his first seven games. In his first game in an Irish uniform, Walsh recorded a goal and an assist and then followed that with two goals and two assists against Penn. He scored at least one goal in his first five games of his career, including scoring two goals against top-ranked Virginia. He did not score, but added two assists against Hofstra, before recording his first career hat trick against Hartford.

Karweck has seven goals and two assists on the season and is fourth on the Irish in scoring while Ryan has five points and Hubschmann has three points.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS:Irish goalie Stewart Crosland has been impressive in goal this season in helping the Irish to a 4-3 start this season. Crosland, who has started all seven games in ’03, has given up 56 goals in five games this season for an 8.48 goals-against average. He has played all but 24 minutes (396 of 420) for the Irish this season.

PRESEASON HONORS – Senior longstick midfielder John Souch and senior defenseman Eric Simon were both tabbed as preseason honorable mention selections by Inside Lacrosse Face Off Yearbook. So far in 2003, Souch has played in all seven games, starting zero, recording one assist and 10 ground balls while Simon has started six of seven games and has 33 ground balls in those games.

HOME SWEET HOME – Notre Dame owns a 93-33 (.738) mark in home games since 1981 and is 1-1 in 2003. Since back-to-back 5-0 campaigns at home in 1994 and 1995, Irish teams own a 41-17 record for a winning percentage of 70.6 percent. Since ’94, Notre Dame has been undefeated at home four times.

LOOKS FAMILIAR – Notre Dame’s 2003 schedule features 11 opponents the Irish faced a year ago – Penn State, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Loyola, Hofstra, Denver, Ohio State, Butler, Air Force, Fairfield and Harvard.

ALL IN THE FAMILY – Craig Bishko, a freshman midfielder on this year’s Irish lacrosse team, is the brother of former Notre Dame standout Steve Bishko, a 2001 United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) third-team All-America selection and three-year starter. The Bishkos are the fourth brother tandem to play lacrosse at Notre Dame. The others are Todd (1992-96) and Joe Bialous, Jason (1992-94, ’95) and Connor (’98) Pett and David (1998-2001) and Todd (1998-2001) Ulrich.

ALL IN THE FAMILY II – Notre Dame’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are represented by members of the Simon family as defenseman Eric Simon’s sister, Meredith, is a junior on the women’s lacrosse team.

UP NEXT – Notre Dame travels to Columbus, Ohio, to face 20th-ranked Ohio State on Sunday, April 6. Game time is 1:00 p.m. eastern time. Remember that is when Daylight Savings begins so Notre Dame and South Bend will be on the equivalent of central time at that point – one hour behind Columbus.